MediaFile

Tech wrap: Myspace sale saga nears end

An investor group involving Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in final talks to take a controlling stake in News Corp’s social network site Myspace, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kotick’s involvement is personal and nothing to do with Activision at this stage, the source said.

News Corp, which paid $580 million for Myspace in 2005, had hoped to do a deal valuing Myspace at about $100 million, but sources said it was unlikely to achieve that target.

Major U.S. banks came under growing pressure from banking regulators to improve the security of customer account information after Citigroup became the latest high-profile victim of a large-scale cyber attack. While Citigroup insisted the breach had been limited, experts called it the largest direct attack on a major U.S. financial institution, and forecast it could drive momentum for a systemic overhaul of the banking industry’s data security measures.

Citigroup said that computer hackers breached the bank’s network and accessed the data of about 200,000 bank card holders in North America. Citi waited more than a month before making the full extent of the breach public, drawing criticism from lawmakers and lawyers.

Apple backtracked on demands it planned to impose on media sold through its App Store, handing a big victory to content publishers that had resisted its original terms. Apple is now allowing publishers to set their own pricing for subscriptions outside the App Store. It also no longer requires publishers to sell subscriptions within the App Store. IPad and iPhone users can now read magazines and books, or play music and videos bought outside of Apple’s App Store as long as there is no button or external link in it to purchase the content, the company said.

Rupert Murdoch shakes up empire….kinda

Rupert Murdoch didn’t open the D9 conference this year as he’s wont to do. So, his alter ego did.

Jane Lynch — the acerbic, sarcastic and domineering Cheerios coach of Fox’s “Glee” — stood in for the News Corp chieftain in a brief stand-up spiel for the 600 attendees at the tech industry conference.

The award-winning actress (and very-temporary acting CEO) declared News Corp’s fledgling The Daily will be shuttered because she’d “never heard of it”, announced an investigation into the backgrounds of the Glee cast, and boasted she’d convinced ultra-conservative TV host Glenn Back to stay on at Fox for one final gig as a dying patient on the highly-rated medical drama “House”.

Tencent, De Wolfe among interested buyers for Myspace

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese Internet holding company Tencent, Myspace founder Chris De Wolfe and Myspace’s current management team are among the 20 odd names kicking the tires at the once might social network to see whether it’s worth buying outright or partnering in some sort of spin-out with current owner News Corp.

Tencent has previously said it is interested in possible US acquisitions.

The names come up in Reuters’ Special Report on ‘How News Corp got lost in Myspace‘,  a behind the scenes tale on how the focused Facebook beat the partying Myspace. (We have the story in a handy PDF format here)

In the story, we highlight some of the key problems Myspace faced,  some well-known and some not often mentioned:

Tech wrap: Amazon’s storm cloud

People sit in Washington Square Park at New York University in New York, October 21, 2009.Amazon.com faced a backlash from the music industry after it introduced Cloud Drive, an online “music locker” that lets customers store music files on the company’s Web servers instead of their own hard drives and play them over an Internet connection directly from browsers and on phones running Google’s Android OS. Sony Music was upset by Amazon’s decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive “is an amazing value and pretty easy to use”, but won’t kill rival Dropbox just yet, Business Insider’s Steve Kooch wrote. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka thinks Amazon’s cloud move isn’t earth shattering and “if you’re a music lover looking for a paradigm shift in the way you consume tunes, this won’t be it”.

Mozilla released its Firefox 4 Internet browser for Android phones, which allows desktop users to synchronize their history, bookmarks, tabs and passwords, according to Mozilla.

Tech wrap: Netflix gets in the game

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings speaks during the unveiling of the iPhone 4 by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithOnline video and DVD rental service Netflix is breaking away from its traditional role as a licensor of movies and TV shows , negotiating with actor Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher for the exclusive rights to a two-season, 26-episode remake of British political drama “House of Cards”, a source said.

Media execs who say they haven’t seen evidence of cable or satellite television subscribers canceling because of TV shows and movies available online may not want to break out the champagne, writes Paul Thomasch. The best devices to help cut your household’s dependence on pay TV are an ATSC tuner, digital media receivers Boxee Box and Roku XDR, digital video recorder Tivo Premiere, and small desktop computers Dell Zino and Apple Mac Mini, according to TechCrunch’s Matt Burns.

Electronics manufacturers warned production would be hobbled by further supply and distribution problems as companies struggle with power blackouts after the disaster in Japan. And the impact could be felt in higher prices or shortages of gadgets such as tablets, smartphones and computers for months to come.

Super Bowl ads: What’s $600 million between friends?

It’s almost time again for the Super Bowl, which means this is when all the talk starts about those famous, and famously expensive, commercials. Just how expensive? Kantar Media came out with a study today that shows Anheuser-Busch InBev, Pepsi, Walt Disney, General Motors, Coca-Cola have combined to spend nearly $600 million on Super Bowl ads over the last 10 years. For those of you bad with numbers, that’s more than half-a-billion dollars. Keep in mind, General Motors wasn’t even part of the game for 2009 or 2010.

This year, however, General Motors is back in a big way – leading a pack of auto makers who, as we pointed out in a story last week, will dominate this year’s game. Up to nine different auto manufacturers are expected to run spots this year. Kantar points out that five years ago only four car companies ran spots. Ten years ago only one car company bought time.

Kantar digs ups a few other interesting tidbits as well. Of course, everyone knows that prices have climbed over the last decade. But the amount of commercials running during the broadcast is also rising. Last year, the CBS broadcast contained a record 47 minutes 50 seconds of commercial time. A total of 104 individual messages aired. Who has time for a football game with all those advertisements?

Today In Music: MySpace’s entertainment focus to lead to job cuts. Tomorrow perhaps?

We’d previously heard that MySpace is on course to cut jobs soon and AllThingsD today put that number at around 550 to 600 jobs and promises the announcement will be coming tomorrow.

The way one person familiar with the company’s thinking puts it, MySpace will be restructuring to realign its staff better with its new focus as a social entertainment site targeting Generation Y. It would also give it an opportunity to resolve various legacy issues.  Being a social entertainment site would probably be an easier path than as a social networking site on a hiding to nothing versus the all mighty Facebook but there are probably still questions about how it will make its money beyond advertising. MySpace despite its troubles still remains a key venue for promoting established bands and thousands of aspiring musicians.

The other story from AllThingsD is that News Corp, as we’ve reported,  is also being considered for sale but ATD (which is also owned by News Corp) points out that the parent company is shopping MySpace primarily to private equity buyers though Yahoo is also being considered.

News Corp beefs up lobbying team on Capitol Hill – wrong country?

RupertMurdoch DCNews Corp announced on Monday it is expanding its  Capitol Hill government affairs office by promoting veterans Bill Guidera and David Fares to senior vice president and adding two more execs in Kathy Ramsey and Kristopher Jones to the Washington team.

We’ve been assured by insiders there’s nothing afoot here but that it’s a recognition of Guidera and Fares’ work. Clearly, we’ll soon hear if there’s more to it in the near future.

Interestingly, if there’s one country where News Corp could do with better government relations right now it is not the US.  The company could probably do with some extra hands in the UK where News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch (pictured, left) is dealing with a number of touchy situations in terms of government relations particularly concerning his company’s bid to take full ownership of BSkyB, the British  satellite TV  provider.

GlobalMedia-3D? After some thought, News Corp COO likes its future

carey1To our surprise, News Corp President and Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, whose studio released the highest grossing movie of all time in 3D, hesitated when asked about the future of that technology.

Carey, speaking at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York, was asked whether he rated a series of technologies “long” or “short” and raced through most of the list without hesitating until faced with 3D.

“Ummm … (pause) … long, but long with limits,” Carey said of 3D. “I don’t think it’s (high definition), so those who sort of think it’s the second coming of HD, I think it is an event medium that’s for films, for sports events.”

Rupert Murdoch’s long crusade to make digital news pay

Rupert MurdochOn the first day of one of my journalism classes, the teacher produced a large metal ring with a short rope fastened to it. The ring was made to be installed in a bull’s nose, he explained; and the rope – called a lead – let you guide him wherever you wanted. The point was clear, if somewhat condescending: Writing a good lead lets the journalist guide the reader around like cattle.

That illustration was a lot more powerful before the web, during an era when closed media like print newspapers and television limited interactivity and left consumers with no choice but to passively accept the news as presented. It doesn’t make sense on the web, where any reader can challenge news content or even become a publisher in a matter of minutes.

Rupert Murdoch still lives in a world of nose rings. The News Corp. CEO has had remarkable success in print and television, but he has stumbled again and again on the web, most notably with the great fizzle that was MySpace. Even today, the company is backing away from Project Alesia, its ambitious plan to create a digital newsstand, after other publishers showed little interest.